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Somali Piracy Revives Sharply After Years of Quiet

(Bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- Somali piracy — the scourge of merchant shipping more than a decade ago — has had a resurgence this year, the industry’s main observer of the crime said.

There were eight acts of piracy and hijackings in the first half of this year near the east African country, the International Maritime Bureau, a Kuala Lumpur- and London-based monitoring organization, said in a report. 

Acts of piracy off Somalia first seriously blighted the industry in 2008 and peaked three years later. The use of armed guards, improved on-board practices, and an increased naval presence all helped to quell the attacks.

The IMB report didn’t say why there’s been a revival this year. However, the incidents resumed in December, not long after Houthi militants began blowing up commercial vessels nearby. The rebels’ campaign drew the attention of naval protection forces trying to protect the ships. 

The Yemen-based Houthis have been attacking vessels traveling through the Red Sea since October in attempt to pressure Israel to halt its attack on the Gaza strip. The attacks have caused many ships to divert around Africa, including the waters off the coastline of Somalia in the east. 

Somali pirates have proven opportunistic and adept in their attacks, targeting diverting vessels up to 1,000 nautical miles away from land, the IMB said. Two were fired upon with guns, and two more boarded. A further three were hijacked.

While global trends in piracy showed a decline in pirate attacks, there was an increased use of violence against the crew of targeted vessels, the IMB said.

 

The amount of seafarers being taken hostage more than doubled compared with the same period in 2023. Pirates were reported to have deployed guns and knives to threaten seafarers in over half of the attacks, the IMB said. 

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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